Former defense minister Moshe Yaalon.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon issued a fierce attack on the national religious Zionist sector in a speech on Wednesday, saying it is becoming more and more extreme.
Speaking at a conference at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange sponsored by the financial daily TheMarker, Ya’alon at first spoke about one rabbi who made anti-gay statements at a pre-army academy in the Samarian community of Eli, but then widened his criticism to the religious-Zionist sector as a whole.
“The sector is getting more extreme,” Ya’alon said. “This of course requires the Defense Ministry and Education Ministry and the IDF to take action against that academy.
But it also requires soul searching and repairing by the heads of the academy and the heads of the sector, which unfortunately is becoming more and more extreme inside and outside of the Knesset.”
Ya’alon, who intends to form a new right of center party ahead of the next general election, was attacking a sizable portion of his potential electorate.
He warned that Israeli society was becoming more intense, and its internal conflicts were deepening.
“We see an inflammation of tension in society, and politicians are to blame,” Ya’alon said. “In order to get a few more votes, especially among millennials, they are behaving aggressively – especially on social media. It starts with attacks on Arab settlers or haredim, and now it is also Ashkenazim against Sephardim. From where does it come? Inflaming tension is not leadership.”
Bayit Yehudi MK Bezalel Smotrich responded by condemning Ya’alon as a “prophet of doom,” and said the former defense minister was “looking for headlines to remind us he is there.”
Ya’alon responded to attacks by Smotrich and others by writing on his Facebook page that “as expected, interested parties are using the things I said in order to make me the enemy of religious Zionism. In reality, there is no greater nonsense than that. I recommend dealing with the problematic phenomena in religious Zionism that I pointed out (which is known very well and bothers the sane majority in the sector) instead of coming out with political campaigns.”
Ya’alon also singled out his successor as defense minister, Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman, saying that his repeated threats against Hamas harm Israel’s deterrence when he does not carry them out.
Attacking Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Ya’alon called for a leadership that does not fear criticism and does not work to weaken the media.
“Confident leadership does not need to fear this. I see now that they are messing with Army Radio. So, once and for all, Army Radio will broadcast the truth, ‘Pravda’ in Russian,” he said sarcastically, referring to the Soviet-era newspaper.
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